22 March 2019

16000 mile round trip for Peter Symonds Principal

Peter Symonds Principal Sara Russell recently returned from a 16,000 mile round trip to the Falkland Islands to meet with prospective and past students, and the parents of students currently boarding at the College. Peter Symonds acts as a sixth form for Falkland students who travel to the UK to board at the College and continue their education.

Ms Russell spent time meeting with year 10 and 11 students and their parents, met with representatives from the Islands’ Education Office, Falkland Islands Community School and the Training Centre in Stanley, and was treated to a tour of East Falkland Island sites and nature reserves.

Commenting on her trip, Ms Russell said “Peter Symonds College has a long history of over 30 years providing educational opportunities to students from the Falkland Islands. Visiting the Islands helps to develop a better understanding of where our students come from, their experiences and the best way we can support them during their time with us. Travelling 8000 miles from their friends and family to further their education shows immense courage and resilience and I am always impressed by the enthusiastic way they embrace College and life in the UK.

“It was wonderful to meet so many former Symonds students, emphasising the importance of our long standing links with the community there and the responsibility the College has to continue this unique link.

“The Islands themselves were absolutely beautiful and I was lucky to have a little time to explore. Highlights included the beautiful windswept scenery, King and Rockhopper penguins and the Historic Dockyard Museum in Stanley. The warmth and friendliness of the Islanders everywhere I went made me feel very welcome.

“I’m very grateful to the Government of the Falkland Islands for the opportunity and to all the Islanders I met who took time to speak with me, show me around and take such good care of me during my visit.”

3 April 2019

NATO talks strategy and challenges with Politics students

The Politics department at Peter Symonds College recently hosted an illuminating talk from Andrew Budd on NATO, detailing the organisation’s current position and the challenges it faces.

A former British Army officer, Andrew was previously in charge of all NATO operations in Afghanistan and since then has been involved in various areas of NATO policy and strategic planning. His talk focused on the role of NATO and how shifting global politics, including Russia’s aggressive foreign policy and the rise of ISIS, impacts on the organisation’s strategy.

After his talk Andrew stayed on for a lengthy question and answer session, giving students a real insight into how a multilateral organisation operates and maintains unity in the face of divergent national priorities and policies.

Commenting on his visit, Andrew said, “I was grateful for the opportunity to come to talk to Peter Symonds Students to talk about NATO and its current challenges - and also grateful for the enthusiastic interaction of the students. I wish them all the best for their exams and for solving all the problems my generation have left behind!”

Students were fascinated by Andrew’s talk, commenting “[the] presentation was engaging, interesting and most importantly relevant, both to the Politics course and to the wider world and the issues we currently face,” and “it was really interesting to hear his take on the changing role of NATO in recent years, particularly regarding the threat of Russia and the serious challenge it poses to the West.”

29 March 2019

Astrophysicist Dr Sadie Jones delivers out of this world lecture on Supermassive Black Holes

Peter Symonds College recently hosted a fascinating talk by Astrophysicist Dr Sadie Jones, Outreach Leader in Astronomy at the University of Southampton. Dr Jones visited Peter Symonds to talk about her experiences in the field of Astrophysics and in particular her research into black holes.

Dr Jones completed an MPhys in Astrophysics at Cardiff University and graduated with a PhD in Radio Astronomy from the University of Southampton in July 2012. She visited Symonds to deliver a talk to a packed lecture theatre on her research into an active supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy NGC 4051, followed by a question and answer session.

Comments from students who attended the talk included: “I’m studying HE+ Physics so this linked in well and it’s great to be able to further that knowledge”; “I’m not studying Physics, but I’ve always been interested in it and wanted to find out more. Sadie explained it all so well and it’s great to have opportunities to develop my knowledge across a range of topics, even in subjects I don’t study”; “It was highly inspiring and fascinating – it’s just a small snippet but it’s pushed me further in the direction I’d like to take and helped to maintain my interest.”

Speaking after her lecture, Dr Jones said “Black holes and astronomy are interesting areas and a good place to start to get people interested [in Physics]. There were some great questions and the students had obviously thought about the topic intently.”

She went on to say “Currently only 20% of Physics undergraduates are female so talks like this are a great way to promote the subject and to make women in science more visible.”

1 March 2019

Clutch of Biology Olympiad medals for Symonds students

Peter Symonds Biology students are celebrating a clutch of medals in the British Biology Olympiad, the largest national biology competition for sixth formers, organised by the Royal Society of Biology.

The team from Peter Symonds took home three Gold, four Silver and two Bronze medals, with two further students Highly Commended.

Gold medal winner Tommy Kelly qualified for the second round of the competition, placing him in the top 16 of biology entrants of his age in the country. If successful in Round 2, taking place at the University of Warwick in April, he will go on to join three other students representing the UK at the International Olympiad in Hungary in July.

The Biology Olympiad enables students with an interest in biology to challenge themselves and broaden their understanding.

Julian Foster, Biology Teacher at Peter Symonds, said “Our Biology students are a talented and motivated group and we are very proud of these fantastic results. It is wonderful to be able to offer them opportunities like this to extend their interest in the subject and receive recognition for their efforts. We are thrilled that they have done so well and looking forward to supporting Tommy as he progresses to the next round of the competition.”

Silver medal-winning student Lucy Savill said ‘The Biology Olympiad was a great opportunity to do something outside of the course content, stretch myself and expand my knowledge. It was a great way to meet other people with similar interests and I really enjoyed taking part.”

11 March 2019

Leading cellist judges Symonds Young Musician Festival Final

Five students from Peter Symonds College Music Department competed in the Outstanding Performances Classical Final of the College’s Young Musician Festival.

William Bruce, Head of Strings at Junior Guildhall and Sub-Principal Cellist of the English National Opera, adjudicated at the recital and awarded the Christes Hospitall Shield for the best performance.

The performers were Sam Booth on the Cello; Juliette Ashman, Voice; Lydia Jones, Piano; Jonny Green, Clarinet; and Morgan Taylor, Trombone. Performers were accompanied by Samantha Carrasco, Head of Keyboard, who organised the festival. After deliberation, Mr Bruce commended Morgan and Juliette for their performances before awarding the shield to Jonny for his “spritely, fun, well-shaped piece which satisfied both head and heart.”

Commenting on the recital, Mr Bruce praised all the performers and said “Today’s performances reflected a natural, nurturing atmosphere, evident as soon as I walked in. The Music Department has an incredibly positive ethos which makes for a fertile bed for talent like this. All the performers played with a natural, warm engagement.”

The recital was sponsored by the Christes Hospitall School Foundation, represented by Michael Vokes, who described the recital as “a set of amazing, spirited performances.”

Rachel Platt, Head of Music, added: ‘We are so proud of our performers, and with 10 conservatoire places and 18 university places awarded to our second year A level students this year it’s a record-breaking year for the department.’

26 March 2019

Peter Symonds Students Success in Physics Olympiad

A number of students studying Physics at Peter Symonds are celebrating their successes in the British Physics Olympiad competition, achieving outstanding results placing them as some of the top A level physicists in the UK.

Over 2000 students from across the UK took part in the Physics Olympiad, giving them the opportunity to stretch their understanding and compete with other talented physicists across the country.

Peter Symonds students did extremely well in the competition, with Chris Lotery achieving a Gold award and two students, Isabel James and Vedanshu Mahajan, achieving Bronze awards, ranking them among the top 100 entrants.

Following his success in the early rounds Chris has progressed to the Oxford training camp for the fifteen best competing physicists in the country, where selections for the International Olympiad are made. If successful, he will represent the UK at the International Physics Olympiad in Tel Aviv in July.

Commenting on the experience, Chris said "I really enjoyed doing the Physics Olympiad. It was a great opportunity to delve into problems I hadn't encountered before. I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering studying Physics or Engineering at university."

Vedanshu added, “I took part in the Olympiad thinking it would be good entrance and interview preparation, so I started doing past papers around summertime last year. I found the questions fun, and stretching my knowledge to well beyond the course content we had been taught (especially for the astrophysics paper) to be really rewarding. It’s helped me learn how to develop and use problem solving skills.”

Simon Hunt, Physics teacher at Peter Symonds who supported the students during the competition, said “It's great to see that some of our most talented physicists have been recognised in this way. To achieve a set of results like this in such a prestigious national competition is really impressive and reflects the hard work and dedication our students apply to their study of Physics.”

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